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White Lightning
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White Lightning (1973) More at IMDbPro »

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White Lightning -- Gator McKlusky (Burt Reynolds) has been convicted of running moonshine whiskey. He is offered a chance of release--if he will serve as an informer and help catch his one-time cohorts. Gator accepts, but only to get our of jail. He has another motive.. He believes that he crooked sheriff (Ned Beatty) murdered his younger brother, a civil rights activist. With the help of a fellow "informant" (Matt Clark) and a daredevil driver (Bo Hopkins), a few fights and some astonishing stunt-driving chases, Gator will eventually prove his case against the sheriff. A bonus: Gator will also acquire the daredevil driver's beautiful girlfriend (Jennifer Billingsley). With Louise Latham, Diane Ladd and a young Laura Dern (Diane Ladd's real-life daughter) in her film debut. Joseph Sargent directed with his usual skill and zest.


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William W. Norton (written by)
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Release Date:
22 October 1973 (Sweden) See more »
If You Haven't Seen "White Lightning" You Haven't Seen Burt Reynolds See more »
An ex con teams up with federal agents to help them with breaking up a moonshine ring. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
That Authentic Southern Setting See more (36 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Burt Reynolds ... Gator McKlusky
Jennifer Billingsley ... Lou

Ned Beatty ... Sheriff J.C. Connors

Bo Hopkins ... Roy Boone

Matt Clark ... Dude Watson
Louise Latham ... Martha Culpepper

Diane Ladd ... Maggie (as Diane Lad)

R.G. Armstrong ... Big Bear
Conlan Carter ... Deputy

Dabbs Greer ... Pa McKlusky
Lincoln Demyan ... Warden
John Steadman ... Skeeter
Iris Korn ... Ma McKlusky
Stephanie Burchfield ... Jenny
Barbara Muller ... Louella
Robert Ginnaven ... Harvey
Fay Martin ... Sister Linda Fay
Richard Allin ... Treasury Agent
Bill Bond ... Treasury Agent
Sherry Boucher ... Sherry Lynne
Glenn R. Wilder ... Junior (as Glenn Wilder)
Dick Ziker ... Highway Patrol

Buddy Joe Hooker ... Highway Patrol
Cathy Finley ... Student
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Laura Dern ... Sharon Anne, Maggie's Daughter (uncredited)

Directed by
Joseph Sargent 
Writing credits
William W. Norton (written by) (as William Norton)

Produced by
Arthur Gardner .... producer
Jules V. Levy .... producer
Arnold Laven .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Charles Bernstein 
Cinematography by
Edward Rosson (director of photography)
Film Editing by
George Jay Nicholson  (as George Nicholson)
Casting by
Ross Brown 
Set Decoration by
Eric Gorder 
Costume Design by
Michael Butler (uncredited)
Makeup Department
Tom Ellingwood .... makeup artist
Marlene Kolstad .... hairdresser
Production Management
Elliot Schick .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Mel Efros .... second assistant director
Hal Needham .... second unit director
Edward Teets .... assistant director
Art Department
Tom Fairbanks .... property master
Craig Binkley .... assistant property master (uncredited)
Tom Jung .... poster artist (uncredited)
Tom Jung .... poster designer (uncredited)
Sound Department
Donald F. Johnson .... sound (as Don Johnson)
Marvin Kerner .... sound effects editor (as Marv Kerner)
John Lipow .... sound effects editor
Hal Watkins .... sound re-recordist
Kenneth Schwarz .... boom operator (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Cliff Wenger .... special effects
Buddy Joe Hooker .... stunts (uncredited)
Hal Needham .... stunt coordinator (uncredited)
Hal Needham .... stunt double: Burt Reynolds (uncredited)
Glenn R. Wilder .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Jack L. Richards .... photographer: second unit (as Jack Richards)
Warren Burke Gerrard .... best boy (uncredited)
John Isaacs .... gaffer (uncredited)
Edmond L. Koons .... camera operator (uncredited)
Ken Mazawa .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Walter Nichols .... rigging gaffer (uncredited)
Ed Nielson .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Phil Segura .... still photographer (uncredited)
Lonnie Stewart .... grip (uncredited)
Frank Tureen .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Gary Van Auken .... key grip (uncredited)
Joseph Viveros .... grip (uncredited)
Paul Vombrack .... camera operator: Chicago (uncredited)
Julian Wilson .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Michael Butler .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Music Department
John Caper Jr. .... music editor
Transportation Department
Paul Casella Jr. .... transportation coordinator
Rudy Beilicke .... driver: Cinemobile (uncredited)
Jerry F. Johnson .... transportation driver (uncredited)
Hank Nesel .... transportation driver (uncredited)
Howard A. Small .... transportation driver (uncredited)
James Womack .... transportation driver (uncredited)
Other crew
James R. Rokos .... assistant to producers (as James Rokos)
Millie Rorke .... assistant to producers
Connie Bixler .... travel coordinator (uncredited)
Stanley Brooks .... disbursing agent: UA (uncredited)
Natalie Drache .... script supervisor (uncredited)
Jean Gingerich .... location auditor (uncredited)
Sherry Meller .... secretary to director (uncredited)
Teresa Stokovic .... production secretary (uncredited)
Arthur Wilde .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
101 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Les Claypool, the lead singer/bassist for the band Primus, references Burt Reynolds on the song Camelback Cinema from Primus' Brown Album, with the line. He likes Burt in White Lightning.See more »
Continuity: When the cops are chasing Gator you can see that there is no rear widow in his car, but when he jumps it onto the barge the car now has a rear window.See more »
Gator McKlusky:You damn peanuthead, you don't know your camp from second base, you know that?
Roy Boone:I don't have to take that crap from nobody!
Gator McKlusky:You super giant ass!
[fight breaks out]
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in "Jeopardy!: Episode #26.83" (2010)See more »
Way Down UnderSee more »


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
That Authentic Southern Setting, 30 December 2007
Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas

Although Burt Reynolds may have been more compelling in "Deliverance" (1972), he does give a fine performance in "White Lightning", as Gator McKlusky, a Southern good-ole-boy, out of prison to revenge his hippie brother's murder. And that revenge plot must, of necessity, track to Bogan County Sheriff J.C. Connors (Ned Beatty), who is involved with hillbilly whiskey stills.

Nobody could have been more convincing as a paunchy Southern redneck sheriff than Ned Beatty. Reynolds and Beatty would team up in later years to make at least two more films with a similar tone: "W.W. And The Dixie Dancekings" (1975), and "Stroker Ace" (1983). In "White Lightning", wonderful Louise Latham makes a semi-cameo appearance as Sheriff Connors' reliable secretary.

Aside from casting and acting, "White Lightning" has other things going for it, not the least of which is a realistic portrayal of a small Southern town. The authenticity, with its various bubbas who frequent the pool halls, display their guns with pride, and race cars at the local fairgrounds, is striking. And with their big engines, the film's muscle cars gleefully tear up the pavement with their screeching tires and agile corner turning.

Indeed, those cars are so souped-up they even burn rubber on dirt roads. Oh well, who cares if there's a minor sound effects plot hole. A more substantive plot hole has Sheriff Connors unfamiliar with the geography of his own county. In particular, he might want to check the map again to note the existence of a large lake at the end of one particular dirt road. Still, his ignorance is our gain as a plot point that proves symmetrically effective.

Plot holes aside, this is a film of dust, dirt, car chases, whiskey stills, the sounds of screeching tires, and some dang good performances. "White Lightning" is worth viewing also for its 1970s nostalgia, and for its authentic Southern setting.

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